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What types of careers are available for someone who majors in psychology?

I would like to know because I don't want to enter a career and at the end find myself struggling to find a job. Thanks! #psychology #careers

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Deborah’s Answer

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Similar to Jessica, I used to do training. Her answer is great for how a psychology degree is a very useful background in adult learning. However, I worked at a large consulting company, and several of us were psychology majors straight out of college. We would help develop and run training programs at different companies.


After that, I went to Google and worked as an analyst in People Operations (our version of HR). My psychology research background was key in helping me get this job! If you like or do well in the stats part of psychology, HR analytics is a rapidly growing field that is hiring a lot. You get to study what makes people happy, productive, and healthy - and then you get to work with companies to create programs around this. There are also a lot of consulting companies who do this.


Some of the things I really enjoyed about working in that role were helping my company, understand why people burn out, how to make better managers, how we can better educate people about saving for retirement, etc. You get to learn a lot about what affects people and how you can help improve their lives.

Thank you comment icon What was your major? How does one pursue an HR position with a background in health psychology? Is this possible? Martha
Thank you comment icon My major was just a Psychology general major, with a minor in Business Administration. It's totally possible to get an HR position with a background in health psychology, especially if you look at teams relating to benefits. It's all about how you construct your narrative. Look for volunteer or intern opportunities in HR departments, or think about how your major can apply to or even change the HR field. Deborah Liu
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Jessica’s Answer

When I was majoring in psychology in college, the only fields I really thought about were therapy/practicing as a clinical psychologist and doing research, since that what all my professors were doing! Now, I'm in the training department of my company, and this and other Human Resources careers are a great way to put a psychology background to good use! For example, a good understanding of cognitive psychology is so important to understanding how people learn, which is what I do every day! I recommend talking to professionals in these fields as well.

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Scott’s Answer

Hey Dulce - Psychology is a pretty broad field of study. A degree in psychology can prepare you for a lot of different careers. This link, http://www.onetonline.org/find/quick?s=psychologist, will provide you with an overview of the different types of psychology jobs that are out there.


One area that is really rewarding is helping people come back from catastrophic events in their life. A rehabilitation specialist works with people in this capacity. http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1015.00


Let me know what you think of these links and I'll be happy to answer more questions.


Good Luck!

Thank you comment icon thanks for the info! Andrea
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the help Teal
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Candice’s Answer

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Psychology.

The field is based around employee workplace behavior & improving the work environment.

When I started out in the field I worked for various healthcare companies in the Human Resources department. I would help the companies find qualified employees, lead workforce training, and assess current employee job performance.

Now with additional psych certifications, I work as an independent consultant for various mental health organizations to help them solve the pain points of running their practice. I act as a practice manager finding effective ways to increase patient satisfaction. My job is to be an all around problem solver and making the workflow better.

Just thought I would mention it, as it is a growing but sometimes unknown or underrated field of psychology.
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Steffi’s Answer

There are a lot of avenues you can take with a psychology degree. The best thing you can do is specify what field interests you and get a degree in that. A general psychology degree will not give you as many options job-wise. Check out this website. It tells the difference between behavior and cognitive psychology, etc. http://psychology.about.com/. Hope this helps!!!!!

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Archana’s Answer

This is such a valid question because there is a general misperception about the return on investment from a career in psychology. Thanks for asking and please excuse the length of this response as I am trying to get you as much information as possible.


I am a User Experience (UX) Researcher at SAP Labs, Palo Alto. I come from an non-traditional background in Business and Arts but I gradually entered the field of psychology and took a few years to figure out what I really enjoyed doing within this broad domain. As a result, I have an undergrad and a Masters degree in psychology. The good news is that you have a LOT of great options that pay well for a career in this track.


THE ONLY PREREQUISITE TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THIS CAREER IS A PASSION FOR OBSERVING, UNDERSTANDING & COMMUNICATING HUMAN BEHAVIOR &PATTERNS.


Gone are the days when a degree in psychology was considered a waste of time and money or an education that wouldn't result in a well paying job. Nowadays, psychology majors and people with a background in social sciences or 'soft' sciences are being highly valued across industries, particularly the prominent and lucrative ones (medicine, tech, engineering and product development). In fact, this phenomenon has been pioneered by tech giants like Apple, Xerox, Google, Facebook, and Amazon who have jumpstarted career tracks in user research (since early 2000's), hunting down talent with a solid background in social sciences. The latest trend is to hire technical people in managerial roles but with backgrounds in social sciences. The reason behind that is because technical skills could be learned on the job but social and empathy skills come with extensive training/academic background in these core areas of social science. Because organizations these days are realizing the value of user experience for the end user or customer, it is not a surprise that they prioritize talent with social science backgrounds. This is where your skills come handy and you are the expert on UNDERSTANDING and TRANSLATING human behavior and insights (i.e. user needs, desires, expectations, and pain points) to the technical folks who BUILD things like engineers, designers, developers, etc.


That said, there is a LOT you can do with a degree in psychology, especially when you complement it with another skill set or a minor area such as neuroscience, statistics, information sciences, or any other applied skill that is currently in demand in the job sector. Psychology grads have non-traditional but super fun careers and job titles such as UX Researcher, Design thinker, UX Evangelist, UX Research Manager, School counselor, School psychologist, Organizational therapist/ Psychologist, HR, Human factors researchers, Ergonomist, Applied Behavior Analyst, Clinical psychologist etc. They have a knack of understanding people and empathizing with them and so they are valued in an organization.


Based on my knowledge, here are some career paths for a degree in psychology. People usually have to chart their own path depending on what they enjoy doing.

  1. If you like [Medicine/ Health/Counseling] --> you can be a [Psychologist, Clinical psychologist, Applied Behavior Analyst, School Psychologist/ counselor, Career counselor, Marriage therapist/counselor]

*The further you go into medicine and health with psychology, the deeper you might find yourself in the area of neuroscience, physiology and neurobiology (study of the human brain). This means that you are entering the areas of STEM and pure/natural sciences.

You will be helping people with mental issues/disorders cope with or fight these problems.


2. If you like [Pure and Applied Research : Scientific thinking and inquiry & observation & experimentation, writing and publishing, teaching/professorship, mentoring] --> you can be a [Teacher, Professor, Academic, Researcher, Scientist, ]

* The traditional path to be an academic or a scientist is to complete a Phd and post doc, complete tenure as a professor, mentor students, and publish scientific papers.

3. If you enjoy [Technology + Any domain for e.g. Medicine, Finance, Health, Education, Sales, Banking etc.] --> you can be a [UX Researcher, Human Factors Ergonomist, Usability Researcher/Engineer etc.]


4. If you enjoy [Interacting with people and children in general, regardless of domain] --> you can be a [HR person, Marketing, Sales, Teacher, etc.]


In addition to the above, there are many emerging tracks in psychology that I may not even know of..

But remember that observing, understanding, and communicating human behavior should be at the core of what you and you can always pick an complementary skill/subject area of specialization.


Good luck!

Archana recommends the following next steps:

Think about why you want to pursue a degree in psychology. What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
Study the job roles above by running a quick internet search. Once you find a job role that you like, study the job requirements in terms of minimum educational qualifications, preferred major areas, specialization, skills needed etc. These are things you will need to train on.
Psychology is a broad subject area. Study the differences within this discipline such as developmental psychology, cognitive science, social psychology etc. Some degrees have a broad focus and include all these areas of study, while some degrees are only focused on cognitive science (human learning, cognition, and behavior) and might have less emphasis on the social psychology aspect.
Strategically, pick a minor or secondary area of specialization such as information sciences, statistics, data science, computer science, design, etc. skills that have a demand in the job market and so could help you land a job easily after graduation. Your degree in psychology is an asset but your secondary area of specialization becomes your value addition.
Find a mentor who is in a position where you'd like to be after you graduate and pick their brains about how they got there!
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